VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis has hailed Pope John Paul II's legacy on the ninth anniversary of the Polish-born pontiff's death.
A crowd of tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims, including some from Poland, applauded when Francis recalled during his weekly Wednesday public audience in St. Peter's Square that John Paul died on April 2, 2005 and will soon be made a saint.
Francis will lead the sainthood ceremony on April 27 in the square for both John Paul and Pope John XXIII. Francis urged the faithful to prepare for the event by "rekindling the legacy of faith that John Paul left behind." He added that the long-ailing John Paul, who led the church from 1978 until 2005, "even accomplished good with his suffering."
Pope Francis is cheered by the crowd as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.
In Warsaw, the faithful will be able to see a documentary dedicated to the pope and then will hold a vigil by his relics: a piece of robes stained with his blood from the May 13, 1981, assassination attempt.
The southern cities of Wadowice, where the pope was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920, and Krakow, where he served as priest and bishop for almost 40 years, will hold prayers starting before 9.37 p.m. (1937 GMT), the hour when he died.